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Oklahoma nonpartisan group comes up with suggestions for state leaders

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: December 12, 2012
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Those taking part in the academy discussions believe the current system is too expensive for employers and offers too low benefits for workers who are legitimately hurt on the job, Kreidler said.

Unlike most previous years, this year's recommendations focus on areas Oklahoma should address in the next 20 years. Usually, the group, founded in 1967, focuses on one topic.

Other key recommendations include adequate funding to maintain and develop Oklahoma's infrastructure, including its waterways; reviewing the state's tax structure; and more collaboration with American Indian tribes in the state.

Kreidler said many of the issues have been addressed by the Oklahoma Academy in previous years. The group has supported changing the county government structure since 1995.

“For the state of Oklahoma to become a player in the global marketplace over the next two decades, we must invest in educating the next work force, creating a culture of good health and investing in the infrastructure systems that are critical to economic growth and quality of life,” said Kreidler, who also is executive vice president of the University of Central Oklahoma.

‘Opening fund'

To improve the state's business climate, the group also is recommending the creation of an “Oklahoma opening fund,” with an initial annual funding of $10 million to increase eventually to $50 million, to be a one-stop funding source for startup and growing businesses.

The Oklahoma Academy said the state's 77-county structure is antiquated and inefficient.

It is recommending that Oklahoma encourage intergovernmental and interlocal cooperation to reduce duplication and increase effectiveness and efficiency of services, such as jails, courts, schools, roads and administrative services.

“We think more taxpayer money is being spent than needs to be spent to provide the quality of services that our folks need in our state,” Kreidler said.